Wellesley Little League has begun taking more serious steps to avoid injuries to players and spectators by forbidding anyone but the player at bat to even touch a bat during a game. Last season a child was seriously injured in Wellesley when struck by a swung bat.
Under Little League Rule 1.08, teams will get a warning. If a second infraction in a game occurs, the team will be required to select 1 bat to use among all team members during the rest of the game. If a third infraction takes place, the head coach will be suspended for the next game.
This rule will apply even at Reidy Field, where on-deck cages exist (though don’t have gates that would keep non-batters out of harm’s way).
A posting on the WLL website reads:
Our efforts to change the habits of the WLL population regarding on deck batters has produced limited positive results. It has been an on going effort since late in the season last year. The overriding concern here should be for the safety of the players and, on some fields, safety of the spectators as well. In addition Little League International’s local officials have been warning us that continued failure to get our leagues to comply will be dealt with more seriously. They are sending out spotters to make sure we get this (as well as other issues) under control. Therefore to ensure that the proper focus is being put on this important issue the Board of Directors has agreed to adopt the following measures.
Umpires will be responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of this rule:
Wellesley Little League has made other changes in recent years to address safety, including a ban on certain types of metal bats. Wellesley had actually switched to wooden bats in the early 2000s, following an injury to a local high school pitcher who got hit in the head with a line drive, but started allowing metal bats in 2010, convinced that manufacturers were taking new safety steps in building bats.